The Government is “seriously” looking at the expansion of grammar schools, the Education Secretary has said.
Kit Malthouse, who took over as Education Secretary this month, reaffirmed Liz Truss’s leadership campaign commitment to explore lifting a 24-year ban on establishing new selective schools.
“The PM made it clear during [the] leadership contest that she wanted to see work on grammar schools, fundamentally because there is a desire from parents in some parts of the country to have them,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“We’re about parental choice, everyone needs to be able to make a choice for their kids.
“So we’re looking at that policy seriously and looking at areas that have it or indeed grammar schools that want to expand is something she has asked us to do.”
The Department for Education is understood to be preparing to research whether there is enough support for more selective schools around the country before pushing ahead with the proposal.
Legislation would be needed to reverse New Labour’s ban on new selective schools in 1998, which could include an amendment to the Government’s Schools Bill, or dedicated legislation.
Sir Graham Brady, the grammar-supporting chair of the 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, has said he plans to table an amendment to the Schools Bill.
Mr Malthouse said: “It would take legislation change and the legislation is moving about so we’ll have to see where it lands with the new government this is a natural process. She [Ms Truss] definitely wants to address the strong desire in quite a lot of parents to reflect the benefits that many got from grammar schools in the wider education system.”
Truss a 'huge supporter' of grammar schools
Ms Truss has described herself as a “huge supporter” of grammar schools, choosing to send her own daughters to one.
She has appointed two pro-grammar Conservative MPs, Jonathan Gullis and Kelly Tolhurst, as ministers in the Department for Education.
There are currently 163 grammar schools in England.
Two-thirds of Conservative voters are supporters of grammar schools and almost half agree that more should be built, a poll by JL Partners for the Onward think tank found earlier this year.
The poll of more than 4,000 voters found that 64 per cent of Conservatives agree that “academically able children should be given the opportunity to apply to a school that better suits their needs, even if children who do not get in do less well as a result”.
Three-quarters of Tory voters said they would send their child to a grammar school if they passed the 11-plus.